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Saturday Feature
Women continue to take backseat
Munima Sultana

          A new gender dimension has posed new challenges to the world media in the coming years after a global media monitoring group detected continuation of dismal portrayal of women in all kinds of news items of print and electronic media in its third report.
The report "Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) 2005", an international collective effort that takes place at five-yearly intervals since 1995, disclosed, women are dramatically under-represented in the news and the media allow very little space for women.
"Though there has been an increase since 1995, when 17 per cent of those in the news were women, the situation in 2005 remained abysmal. For every woman who appears in the news, there are five men," said Margaret Galagher, consultant and data analyst of GMMP, in the analysis of the report.
The GMMP report was prepared on the basis of extensive data collected from 76 countries including Bangladesh by reviewing 12,893 news stories of print and electronic media in a single day on February 16, 2005. The data for GMMP 2005 was collected through the collective voluntary effort of hundreds of organisations including gender and media activists, grassroots level communication groups, academics and students of communication, media professionals, journalists' associations, alternative media networks and church groups.
The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), an international NGO which promotes communication for social change, co-ordinated the GMMP 2005 and experienced greater participation from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states to North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific. In Bangladesh, Gender in Media Forum coordinated the data collection work.
This GMMP report 2005 was released at WACC office in London on February 15 this year and now available on the website "www.whomakesthenews.org".
The latest report showed that women got only 14 per cent space in the news of politics and relating to government and 20 per cent in economic and business news, adding that even in stories relating to women, who were victims of gender-based violence, male voice (64 per cent of news subjects) prevailed.
Women's image as celebrity and ordinary people was supported in 42 per cent and 33 per cent news stories respectively and they (23 per cent) outnumbered men (16 per cent) to appear in photographs of stories on crime, violence or disaster which were to give dramatic effect.
As newsmaker, women outnumbered the males only in two occupational categories - homemakers (75 per cent) and students (51 per cent) and their under-representation was found in professional categories such as law (18 per cent), business (12 per cent) and politics (12 per cent).
"Men are 83 per cent of experts, and 86 per cent of spokespersons. By contrast, women appear in their personal capacity - as eye witnesses (30 per cent), giving personal views (31 per cent) or as representatives of popular opinion (34 per cent)," the report said.
In the country analysis, Bangladesh media was found to maintain only one per cent gender equality in its 118 stories. Not a single story on politics or economics or any other topics was found where women were focussed. But four crime stories and two sports and celebrity stories were on women as central news and 98 per cent stories reinforced stereotyped gender.
It also showed that only 23 per cent females were assigned in areas of major topics of news in print media of the country against 77 per cent males. Although women dominated men by 78 per cent as news presenter in the television news, they were only 29 per cent found as reporters. Men were 9 per cent as presenters and 71 per cent as reporters in the survey.
The GMMP is the most extensive global research on gender in news media, which commenced as a media watch group after the United Nations recognised the importance of media monitoring as a tool for change for the first time in Section J of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. GMMP did the first survey in 1995 and the next in 2000.
The study report of Bangladesh chapter is also likely to be made public at CIRDAP in the city on March 4 under the title "Women's Portrayal and Participation in Media: What its Role "


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